Freedom from Domestic Violence

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  This important subject  will always be near to my heart.  I was employed for fifteen years as a domestic violence victim advocate in the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.   From 1992 to 2007 I helped countless women and men navigate their way through the court system.  Some of them needed and desired my  help, while some declined my assistance.  The problem of domestic violence continues to plague the lives of millions of women, and it is still one of the top reasons women miss work.  There is more information and resources available than ever before, but yet domestic violence persists,  along with the attitude that somehow the victim has to take some fault for her abuse.   On December 1, 2012 a beautiful young mother named Kasandra Perkins was murdered by her NFL player boyfriend, who later killed himself,  leaving their infant daughter an orphan.  Although we heard very little about it nationally and it seemed to be swiftly swept under the rug, I wrote the following piece in tribute to Kasandra Perkins and the countless other victims of domestic violence who are easily forgotten by society:


“I’m Tired”  by Shawn Richard-Davis

I’m tired. Tired of the toll that violence is taking on our community.  Kasandra Perkins lay dead this weekend, a tragic victim of multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by her NFL player boyfriend Jovan Belcher.  The same weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs went ahead with their scheduled football game (what a surprise). Did we actually think the deaths of two black people would be reason enough to postpone America’s dearly loved “Football”?  Please!  Our community is losing the fight against domestic violence.  Yet we continue to hide the fact that it is going on daily in the lives of our families and friends.  When Kasandra was killed, some of the first comments were, “They seemed happy “and “They were a normal couple”.   When will we stop the denial?  No normal person shoots a person they love multiple times and then kills himself.  It is not normal, and you can believe there were signs leading up to this tragedy.  Kasandra’s death in fact makes Mr. Belcher a murderer.  He committed the ultimate act of control in killing her.  In domestic violence relationships, a perpetrator will often state, “If I can’t have you, no one will.” In this case, Jovan Belcher decided when both he and Kasandra would die.  Kasandra had no choice or control in this matter.  There was no love shown in this act of violence.  There was no love shown in leaving a three month old baby motherless and fatherless. If we don’t wake up as a community and face the fact that domestic violence is a real problem for us, we are going to lose many more Kasandras.  Who is going to tell Kasandra’s daughter the truth when she is old enough to understand? Will they ever?  Will they tell her that her father was so angry that he took a gun and killed her mother, then went and killed himself?  Or will it be sweetened with, “Baby, your daddy loved you so much… but he was hurting, so he took your mama with him.  He didn’t mean it.” We must stop making excuses for the violence perpetrated by our men and sometimes, women.  We can no longer take the stance of “we understand it” just because we feel like life is so much harder for us due to racism, poverty, and lack of access to education and jobs.   We must stop lying to ourselves and others.  We have to demand an end to domestic violence in our community.  We have to stand up for the victims, and demand the perpetrators get help . By any means necessary. As a domestic violence victim advocate for fifteen years, I got so tired of the excuses, the lies and the denial: “He said he won’t do it again”. “He said he is going to get help”. “The children were asleep, they didn’t hear anything”. “I started it”. “We both hit each other”. “It’s not that bad”. “He’s a good father”. “He’s only like that when he drinks/does drugs”. “I don’t want a no contact order”. “I won’t testify against him”. “We’re going to go to counseling together”. “We’re going to talk to our pastor”. Stop it! Just stop it.  Call it what it is and cry out loud, “Somebody help me please!”  There are places to get help.  There are people waiting to offer assistance.  Please ask for it.

I have included a few websites where you can get help if you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence.

Northwest Family Life:

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

New Beginnings